On December 30th we arrived on the Thai island Ko Phayam. We had taken a VIP bus from Bangkok to Ranong. And this time (in comparison to Tanzania) VIP meant what it said: reclining seats with LOTS of foot space, a pillow and blanket and even a stewardess to provide us with a drink and a snack. 😀

Bus to Rangon

VIP Bus Thailand

Once in Ranong, we took a pick-up to the pier and waited for our ferry boat to take us to our island. At the pier we had breakfast in a little shack…and even here free wifi was provided. Thailand is wifi paradise!!

Pickup Ranong

Upon arrival on the small island where no cars are allowed, the only option to get to our hotel was by motorcycle taxi. Up to then I wouldn’t even have thought it would be possible that I would get on a motorbike (which was actually just a scooter) with my big backpack, my daypack…and the driver. It was possible.

Motorcycle Taxi Thailand

Our resort ended up being a bit less intimate than we would have liked, but because of peak season we had booked in advance and couldn’t get out of the booking. (Not that we would have found any vacancies at this time anyway.)

Nevertheless our bungalow was very nice, the setting of the resort was really pretty and it was facing the sea.

Bamboo Bungalow Koh Phayam

We spent New Year’s Eve at the beach, enjoying fire shows, fire works and lanterns being lit to fly away. It was a very layed back and enjoyable atmosphere.


Lantern Thailand

We rented a scooter for two days to explore the green, beautiful island and just relaxed after hectic Bangkok.

Restaurant Koh Phayam

Koh Phayam

Four days later we moved on to Khao Sok. Arriving from Ranong, we were planning to take a minibus from Takua Pa, when a fellow passenger approached us. He asked us if we wanted to share a private pick-up with a few people and therefore leave right away. As we were not able to book my prefered accommodation at Khao Sok ahead of time (only by fax (!!) or by phone the website had said…and the phone number was not working anymore), we thought the earlier we get there, the better and accepted. A pleasant one hour later we arrived at the national park. I will not go into the details of our driver suddenly wanting more money for the pick-up ride than agreed upon beforehand and will just say, that we all decided to pass on being taken directly to our accommodations and just got off and walked from the main road. 😕

Pickup Thailand

Luckily Art’s Riverview lodge had a free bungalow left and we were able to move into the most beautiful resort in the area. I had stayed at Art’s four years earlier and was really anxious about getting a room at that place. Once we arrived, V understood why. To get to the resort you have to go to the very end of a dirt road. And there, in the middle of the jungle you find Art’s tree houses.

Art's Riverview Lodge Khao Sok

A really nice detail of the little houses built on stilts is the open air bathroom and the location right at the river.

Open air shower

Khao Sok

The restaurant of the resort is located next to the lime stone mountains, right accross a monkey watering hole, where swimming is possible. The whole thing just feels like the perfect oasis!

(By the way, I am not wearing a helmet in the picture below…that actually IS my hair!)

Restaurant Art's Riverview Lodge

Monkey watering hole Art's Riverview Lodge

Limestone Art's Riverview Lodge

On our first day, we went hiking on our own in the Khao Sok National Park. We were surrounded by beautiful rainforest that is said to be one of the oldest on the globe and magnificent lime stone formations.

Rainforest Khao Sok Nationalpark



S in Khao Sok Nationalpark

V in Khao Sok Nationalpark

For the next day we had booked an overnight tour taking us to Ratchaprapha (or Cheow Lan) dam by longtail boat. A fantastic lake was created there, surrounded by rainforest with lime stones emerging everywhere from the lake. The not so pretty side of this location is it’s history. On my last visit there my guide explained that a large area of forest had been cleared to make space for the dam and its lake. And all the people of the villages in the area had to be resettled before the flodding. Seems though that many of the floating raft houses that are on the lake to accommodate tourists are run by the villagers now, which creates a good source of income for them.

Our guide picked us up and brought us to the lake pier where we got into our longtail boat. Shortly after departing our engine made a loud noise and stopped working. This already made me quite nervous, especially as our guide did not make the effort to keep us in the loop about what we were going to do. I really wanted to change boats, but our guide and the boat man started fumbling with the engine. One moment they were looking into the engine, lifting it to see what could be done, the next our engine and the boat man went overboard with a bang and a good shake of the boat. 😯 For a moment we just stared in disbelief. When we had gotten our thoughts back together we communicated our fear quite audibly and were moved to a different boat with a different boat man. We got to the raft houses without any further disturbance.

Engine problem long tail boat Thailand

Long tail boat without engine

Long tail boat on Ratchaprapa Lake

View from long tail boat

Raft houses

On the first day of our tour we had a short (but sweaty), guided hike in the jungle together with a friendly turkish couple.

Ratchaprapa Lake

Trekking Khao Sok Nationalpark

Plants Khao Sok Nationalpark

Later on we were able to swim in the lake and relax on the pier of the raft houses: again, a little paradise!

Swimming Raft Houses Ratchaprapa Lake

Raft houses Ratchaprapa Lake

Raft houses Ratchaprappa Lake2

We spent the night in our own little raft house which was a really nice experience, even if we felt the movement beneath us for the next two days, long after we had already left.

Raft houses Ratchaprapa Lake

Raft houase Ratchaprapa Lake

Raft houses Ratchaprapa LakeRaft houses Ratchaprapa Lake

The next day, before breakfast we made a longtail boat tour on the lake, looking for wildlife and enjoying the mystical morning atmosphere. We got to see some monkeys and apes up in the trees and got to witness the awesome sound of the hornbill’s wings when flying.

Ratchaprapa Lake in the morning

Ratchaprapa Lake in the morning

Ratchaprapa Lake in the morning

Ratchaprapa Lake in the morning

After breakfast we went kayaking close to the forest, being able to soak up the calmness, before heading back to Art’s.

Another cool thing about this resort is the fact that monkeys hang around all over the place. Mornings you are awoken by thumps on the roof of your bungalow. And this continues for about half an hour, after which you are sure you must be in some version of “Planet of the Apes” and that when you open your door there must be an army of monkeys waiting for you and that you will be handcuffed and taken away. To my relief there were only three or four monkeys sitting on our balcony when we wanted to go for breakfast. It was a bit exciting to get past them while preventing them from get into our bungalow and without them feeling threatened. I mean who wants a monkey to get angry, right?

Monkeys Art's Riverview Lodge

It was fun to witness the older monkeys watch over the younger ones, making sure the big, evil humans didn’t get too close to them. This did create a challenge here or there when we wanted to cross a bridge to get home or walk to our restaurant and the monkeys were in our way. Admittedly we ran off when a tiny fellow bared his teeth at us.

Monkey Art's Riverview Lodge

After five super relaxed days in the jungle we were sad to have to leave, but also looked forward to our next stop: Pai (pronounced “bye”), a small, vibrant mountain town that I had also visited on my last trip to Thailand and hoped V would like as much as I had.